The Rockies entered the final month of the season knowing they had a chance to hurt some contenders’ playoff chances.
They did just that Friday night at Coors Field, defeating the Atlanta Braves, 4-3. The Braves (71-63) hold a 2 1/2 game lead over Philadelphia, which lost to Miami on Friday.
And the Braves are no doubt lamenting a possible run that got away. With the Rockies leading by a run with one out in the eighth, Eddie Rosario tried to steal third. But Colorado catcher Dom Nunez threw a strike to third baseman Ryan McMahon, who made a between-the-legs tag to end snuff out the would-be rally. The Braves thought Rosario was safe and replays seed to indicate that his hand beat the tag, but the call stood.
The Rockies, who improved to 44-23 at home, received contributions from multiple players, beginning with starter Antonio Senzatela, who made his eighth quality start in his last 10 games.
“I just feel like I’m better in so many ways,” Senzatela said. “With my pitches and with my confidence.”
Closer Carlos Estevez tossed a perfect ninth to collect his fourth save and post his 14th consecutive scoreless outing.
“I think the command of the fastball and with velocity has been a big part of it,” manager Bud Black said.
Colorado scored the game-winning run in the sixth on Trevor Story’s two-out double and C.J. Cron’s subsequent RBI single.
Charlie Blackmon hit a 451-foot solo homer in the first and added a sacrifice fly in Colorado’s two-run third. Brendan Rodgers also had an RBI single in the inning.
The bad news for Colorado was the injury suffered by Connor Joe. The left fielder, who’s having a breakout season, departed the game in the third inning. Joe drew a one-out walk and advanced from third base to first on Rodgers’ RBI single. However, as Joe neared third base, he pulled up with a strained right hamstring. Joe was checked out by Black and the team trainers and immediately removed from the game.
After the game, Black described the injury as “a mild strain,” but added that Joe might have to go on the injured list.
It looked like it might be a tough ride for Senzatela when Ozzie Albies sent Senzatela’s second pitch of the game 428 feet and over the wall in center. But Senzatela hung tough and pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits.
Senzatela suffered tough luck in the second when Adam Duval ripped a drive to center where Raimel Tapia tried to make a diving catch but came up empty, resulting in a triple for Duval. He scored on Eddie Rosario’s sacrifice fly to put Atlanta in front, 2-1.
Atlanta scored its third run off Senzatela in the sixth, tying the game 3-3 on a two-out double by Freddie Freeman and an RBI single by Austin Riley.
Bullpen shuffle. With recent injuries to the starting rotation, the Rockies’ bullpen has been taxed. That resulted in a flurry of moves Friday. Right-hander Ashton Goudeau was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to be used as a long reliever or even a spot starter at Colorado.
The well-traveled Goudeau has been with six organizations since the end of last season, including two stints with the Rockies.
“He had a big year in Double-A a couple years ago, then sort of a whirlwind from there — more than a handful of teams to claim him,” Black said. “But he’s got some talent. He’s got enough fastball, that breaking ball and a good changeup. He has the weapons to compete at this level. He just needs more of an opportunity to show.”
To make room for Goudeau, right-hander Justin Lawrence was optioned to Triple-A. Black likes Lawrence’s raw stuff, but Lawrence continues to struggle with his command. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning at Texas on Wednesday.
Also, the club outrighted right-hander Joe Mujica to Triple-A. Mujica has an 8.68 ERA in 18 Triple-A starts. The move trimmed Colorado’s 40-man roster to 39 players.
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